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Chapter 1 : A Giant and a Phoenix
| ||Rating: Mature||Chapter Reviews: 16|
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Something flies over the castle, keening its misery out for all those left to hear. In the Forbidden Forest where you stay, even you can hear the song. It’s like something you’ve never heard before; it’s sad and heartbreaking, so sad that you clamp your hands down on your ears with a pressure that can crush another man’s head, trying to block it out.
The song seems to last forever, a confection of airy, delicate notes blending together to create a melody one can almost taste. You don’t like it, how the music makes you so sad. It isn’t right. You look up at the sky, watching for a glimpse of the strange thing making such a noise.
Night is darkening the sky and stars are beginning to peek out of it. Now is the time when the grey stone castle Hagger had never allowed you to go near would be alight with candles and flames, the merriment of its occupants bathing the Forest in a warm glow. Tonight, though, there is nothing but the aching melody. Only grief to keep your own company.
You can see it then, as the sound comes closer, becomes louder. Surprisingly,the creature singing is a bird. Or at least, it would have been surprising if you had the energy left to be surprised. It wheels over the castle you’d been inside today. Just some hours ago, you’d met more of your kinsmen, did Hagger know? They’d tried to bully you again, calling you names like coward and runaway and little half-man as they hurled rocks and smashed walls. There was a bleeding hole in your right leg where one had tried to crush you, but that was okay because there were no more bullies. They’d all left, gone soon after you lumbered back into the Forest.
It’s odd, how you know you can remember everything if you want to – how your leg had been on fire, how you had desperately tried to keep a hand on it to prevent the precious blood from spilling on the ground as you half-ran through the woods, the trees and branches which, for the first time, seemed unfriendly, hitting your skin carelessly as you fled through the woods. But you don’t want to remember it, so you shut the thoughts away carefully, lock them up in a small secret place.
The singing stopped, and the bird – now directly above you – flew downwards, spiralling in a shape that would be considered graceful if it had not been so jerky. It was red and gold, and big, much bigger than the other birds who sometimes try to bully you the way your old tribe did.
This bird wouldn’t try to attack you, though. You knew that, something in you speaking to something in it, that this bird was nothing as much as sad. It burrowed its head down in its own plumage, ignoring you, and you recognise a little of yourself in that motion, the way the world could seem so invasive, and how the magnificent bird was only trying to hide, to cope with it.
Half-formed words lie in your mouth as heavy as stones and prickly as branches, and thoughts fill your head until you forget everything, the throbbing of your leg, the eerie quiet of the place filled with the dead and the living. It’s only you and the bird, alone together in the clearing of the forest that you’d started to call home long ago.
“Helluh,” you attempt as Hagger has taught you painstakingly, and the bird looks up at you. It’s almost instinctual, but you don’t want such a pretty thing to be sad. There aren’t enough pretty things in the world, and if one of the properly pretty things is sad, then what can you do? The bird looks up at the sky, and you feel a jolt of alarm at the thought of it flying away, but it evidently decides that flying is too much trouble, that staying here will be easier as long as it was safe.
You don’t attempt to talk again, but reach out, and the bird pushes its head into your hands like Hagger’s affectionate dog. This gives the bird comfort, or so you hope, but strangely enough it also cheers you up.
Before, all you had known of birds was that they were too much like everything else in the world. That they hated you for your games and would fly at you cruelly, viciously whenever they felt you were too near their nests, shrieking furiously and pecking, opening a thousand tiny cuts in your thick skin with their sharp beaks.
This bird is different, you sense. Not just because it looks so different but because there is something clever, intelligent in the round dark eyes you’d caught a glimpse of just a minute ago.
The bird raises its smooth head from your hand and sings a note. In an instant, it feels as though you have swallowed the courage your brothers have always said you never possessed; it is as though you are warm from the inside out, glowing as a candle does. Pearly white tears trickle down the bird’s face and onto your leg as you realise that you are still bleeding slowly, and now you are not, now the bird is healing you and helping you as you come to one final conclusion.
No, this bird is nothing like the others at all.
A/N - This was written for the House Cup 2014, Event Three, Prompt One - Write about an experience with a magical creature to remember that not all creatures are ones of darkness and decay. Without the A/N, this is 909 words according to Word.
I’d love to hear what you thought of this, I know Grawp and Fawkes is a very odd interaction so I hope I did them both justice! If you have the time, please drop a review down below, it’d mean the world to me. :)
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